Obesity Epidemic Is a Problem at Nursing Homes

Overweight patients are being turned away, says The New York Times

Unprepared and overwhelmed: Nursing homes are feeling the pressure of the increasing number of obese patients.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than one-third of adults ages 65+ are obese — and one in 20 adults are considered extremely obese. And a Dec. 14 article published by The New York Times brings to light the growing problem of obesity in nursing homes.

“The population is shifting faster than the ability of nursing homes to deal with them,” Cheryl Phillips, a senior vice president at LeadingAge, told the Times.

Numerous concerns are addressed in the story, but some of the most worrisome include not enough staff, money or knowledge to manage these severely overweight patients.

Nursing homes are unable to afford the necessary care for these heavier adults since Medicaid does not reimburse them for the needed equipment, like motorized lifts, larger beds and wheelchairs, longer intramuscular needles and larger blood pressure cuffs.

It’s a vicious cycle: Hospitals seek to transfer their obese patients to nursing homes, but facilities often decline since they can’t afford the care. Hospitals are then tasked with finding a way to safely discharge the obese patients who are ready to leave. What will those people do? Where will they go?

How do we give aid to these obese elderly people, who are often ostracized for being overweight in the first place?

A video released earlier this year by PBS NewsHour delves deeper into the topic:

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